i lost so this is my consolation prize

My mother is lying on the floor of our trailer
(she weeps in two languages)
and I am left to fall asleep on an empty stomach;

Last night my cousin brought home shards of glass & a black eye,
I wanted to hang myself from the
highest branch of the tree in our backyard,
instead my fingers clenched around the neck of a bottle,
ribs shifting to accommodate my hunger;

When I tried to bury our heartache in the tamarisk tree,
my mother screamed DON’T TOUCH IT – 
so I became the graveyard,
carrying our dead like an empty backpack;

If I was writing this story, it would end with my death,
(death is the kind of consolation prize you win
when you’ve lost everything else)
grief did not disappear with his body into the earth,
I kept seeing his face in the mirror for weeks after – 
this was the kind of guilt that I couldn’t hide in the
liquor sliding down my throat: quicksilver, sharp-edged;

I don’t visit his grave today,
my mother is still singing the siren song
of grief. she has been feeding me apologies,
the last few weeks , and I am bursting
with all the words she never said to him – 
we are still pretending this is not permanent,
just a bruise that will heal in the daylight.

—  My Mother Weeps in Two Languages by Rachana Hegde